That’s how Jesus was misunderstood, Socrates was misunderstood, Buddha was misunderstood. They were speaking very clearly. It is impossible to improve upon the statements of Socrates; his statements are very clear, almost perfect, as near perfect as language can be. Buddha’s statements are very simple – there is no complexity in them – but still misunderstanding arises.
From where does all this misunderstanding come? Why have all the great prophets, tirthankaras, all the great enlightened masters been misunderstood down the ages? – for the simple reason that people cannot hear. They have ears, hence they believe they are capable of hearing. They are not deaf, they have the instrument to hear, but behind their ears there is so much noise and their minds are standing behind their ears to interpret what is being said, to compare, to analyze, to argue, to doubt. They get lost in all the processes.
Just a small word, and watch your mind, what happens – not even a word, just a sound. This airplane passing by…and watch your mind. You cannot hear it simply, you start thinking of many things. Maybe you are reminded of your own journeys, some friend who died in a plane crash, somebody you loved very much, and all the memories associated with the person…and you have gone far away into the memories. And one thing leads to another; you are no more herenow. You have not heard the plane passing by. This plane simply triggered a process in you – of thought, of memories, of desires. Maybe suddenly you thought, “It would be nice if I had a plane of my own.” Or maybe you simply thought, “What a distraction! This noise is a disturbance. I was listening so silently, and here comes this stupid airplane!”
It is not the airplane that is disturbing you; it is your own mind which is calling it stupid, a distraction, a disturbance. If you don’t call it anything, nothing is disturbed. If you simply hear the noise you will be surprised: it deepens your silence; it is not a distraction at all. When it passes by you fall into a deeper valley of silence than you were in before.
Hence the first word of the Desiderata:
Hear then the wisdom of the wise…
A strange beginning, particularly from a Western poet, from an American poet. This is how all the Eastern sutras begin. Just a little difference is there, and that seems to be because of the Western medium. He has not been able to relate exactly what was happening in his innermost being.
All the great Eastern sutras begin with now: Athato brahma jigyasa. The Brahma Sutras begin this way: “Now the inquiry into the ultimate” – not then but now. The Bhakti Sutras of Narada begin: Athato bhakti jigyasa: “Now the inquiry into the universe of devotion.” It is never then, it is always now. In fact, “then” does not exist, only “now” exists.